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Is It Bad to Flat Iron My Curls?

Yes. No. ....what???  Tired of conflicting advice about flat irons?  How often is safe?  What kind should I use?  etc?

Iron Clothes Not Curls, says my Ouidad t-shirt and tote bag.  As a professional stylist specializing in curly hair, I must admit that the Ouidad slogan is cute, catchy, and to the point. Intense heat, like that of a flat iron, can weaken your curl pattern, and can, in essence, become relaxer - forever changing the life of your curls. Think: you won't see your actual curl pattern again until your hair grows out.  I see this fairly often. Clients wanting to wear their hair curly, but their natural curl pattern has been ravaged by flat iron abuse leaving them a few inches of lovely curls and a few inches of lifeless locks. READ more after the jump...
 Using a flat iron to straighten your hair every day, or even "often" can potentially ruin the chance of loving your natural curls  On the severe end, heat damaged ends with  curly (think type 3- 3a and beyond) roots can look almost identical to the grow out process of a chemical relaxer!!  Some are less severe, with only a few pointy pieces near the ends of curls, especially on the top.  If you have highlights or permanent color on your hair, and don't feed it regularly with the moisture and protein it needs, you could be asking for trouble by even doing it once - think flicking a match into a drought ravished forest.  If you've just undergone any kind of color change, check with your stylist before getting the ok to apply intense heat. So, yes, it IS bad to flat iron your curls.

Full disclosure notwithstanding, I know that naturally curly girls may want to change it up every now and again. For most women, making a temporary change can be fun and exciting, it's natural to want to play with your hair every once in a while. So, if you must, remember to follow these precautions:

1. NEVER TOUCH A HEAT TOOL TO OR NEAR YOUR HAIR WITHOUT A THERMAL
    PROTECTOR. EVER. NO EXCEPTIONS.
    thermal protection sprays heat activated polymers form a protective layer between your hair and the intense
    heat of a flat iron, helping to prevent breakage.  I'll be doing a review of my favorite protectors, stay tuned!
2. DON'T DO IT ALL THE TIME
    if you flat iron your curls all the time, they'll look busted. then end.
3. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
     use a high quality flat iron and never go above 380 degrees.  I personally use a ghd styler. They are a
     high quality tool and I've it used on every hair type with consistently good results. Heat tool review also
     coming soon! Combined with their thermal protector and Creation Spray and I've not had a better result.
     On curly hair, I see a NOTICEABLE difference (for the worse) if I do not use the ghd products.
  

    
4. DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
    If you want a temporary change for a special event or just for fun, go for it.  If you don't know how to
    manage your curls and wish you could wear it curly more than you wear it straight,  you should find a
    curl expert in your area and learn the techniques and product prescription that is right for you and will help
    you love your natural curls!!

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